Darlington Nagbe Reflects on an Amazing 2015
A year brings something new to the life and career of every professional athlete: the highs, the lows, and the unexpected twists & turns of another grueling season. All of the emotion and drama of why we love our sports teams and the men and women that play them! When Darlington Nagbe has the chance to sit down and reflect at the end of what is looking to be the beginnings of a long and accomplished career, he will certainly look at 2015 as the time when things really took off for him, both on and off the field. From the birth of his son, his first MLS Championship, receiving full USA citizenship and being immediately called in to the USA Men's National team..........it's been an amazing time in his life! So we were lucky enough to have one of our club staff coaches, Dejan Mladenovic, catch up with Darlington on some down time and discuss how he is doing! From discussing how he came to find the Internationals club as a young player, to his favorite soccer memories, his time as an NCAA Champion at Akron University, and his goals looking ahead to 2016, check out how one of our club's most accomplished graduates is doing at the highest levels of the game!
Dejan: First and foremost, Congratulations on winning the MLS Cup, being called up to the USMNT and most importantly on the birth of your son Kingston!
Darlington: Thank you! The past few months have been very exciting. The call up to the USMNT was extremely exciting for me and a major goal of mine. Also, it was awesome to win the MLS Cup in my home state of Ohio. Then 2 days after flying back to Portland my Son Kingston was born. I've been very blessed!
Dejan: This is a very exciting time in your personal and professional life. What continues to motivates you after all of your success?
Darlington: The biggest thing that motivates me moving forward is to do it all again. I know how difficult it was to win an MLS Cup the first time but I know it's even harder to win it again. The fact that it is going to be even more difficult is a huge motivation in itself.
Dejan: What are you professional goals moving forward into 2016? More games with UMNT, win more games win the Timbers and win another trophy
Darlington: I have 2 main goals in 2016. My first goal is to continue to get called up with the USMNT and earn more playing time with the team. My second goal is to win more games for the Timbers and do everything in my power to help us bring another MLS Cup back to Portland.
Dejan: How did it feel to put on the USMNT jersey for the first time?
Darlington: Putting on the USMT jersey was extremely special. If you think about how many people play soccer in this country and you are chosen as one of the players to represent the United States, it's truly amazing. You know at that moment everyone in the country is cheering for you and our team.
Dejan: What is it like to play in front of the Timbers Army?
Darlington: Amazing. There is no place in the country that you can get that type of environment. The fans are there cheering you on whether you win, lose or draw. No matter the minute of the game. You genuinely feel they're behind you every single game.
Dejan: When you moved to Lakewood at the age of 11 how did you learn about Internationals and why did you decide to join the club?
Darlington: When I moved to Lakewood my Family and I immediately started asking the people we met in the area what the best soccer clubs/teams were in the city. We kept hearing that Internationals was the place to get excellent coaching and play with great players. We were put in touch with Louie Nanchoff who invited me to practice. Once I went to training I never looked back!
Dejan: How influential was your time at Internationals?
Darlington: Extremely influential. I love playing with good players and I love playing against great competition. Playing for Internationals allowed me to do both. It also gave me the opportunity to travel across the United States and play against the top players in the country. This helped give me exposure to college coaches and scouts while I developed as a player.
Dejan: How did Internationals prepare you for your collegiate experience at the University of Akron?
Darlington: Playing for Internationals was great in my preparation for the University of Akron. Coming in as a Freshmen I was already used to playing against the best players in the country from my time with the club. This helped me a lot.
Dejan: What is your favorite Internationals Soccer memory?
Darlington: My favorite ISC memory was beating Vardar at Regionals in Rockford, Illinois when we were U-14. They were an unbelievable team that hadn't lost a game in over a year. We beat them by a goal and broke their streak.
Dejan: Who was your favorite Internationals coach growing up and why?
Darlington: (Laughs) Both George and Louie. I can't pick between them. They were both so great to me. Louie taught accountability on a soccer field. How to be a competitor and take every game seriously. I learned that every time I step on a field I wanted to win. George definitely helped me develop as a player as well but he taught me so much about life and being a good person.
Dejan: What is your favorite Professional soccer memory?
Darlington: Winning the 2010 NCAA National Championship with Akron and the 2015 MLS Cup with Portland are VERY close as my top soccer memory, but I have to give the edge to the Akron Championship. Both are extremely special to me but winning with my Brothers from Akron is something that meant a lot to me. We were like a Family.
Dejan: What advice do you have for young Internationals soccer players who want to grow up to be like you?
Darlington: Work hard on and off the field. But the main thing is to not just play or just watch the game. Play and watch the games to get better. Use both as opporuntieis to learn. Especially when you are watching the pros play. Watch what they do and try to do it yourself. Watch what doesn't work and try not to make the same mistakes. You can always learn when you are watching soccer.